March 13, 2020 – Islamabad: The British High Commission and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) in partnership with civil society organisation Idara-i-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) hosted a discussion and marketplace event titled, ‘Leave No Girl Behind: Scaling up What Works for Adolescent Girls in Pakistan’ in Islamabad. In her keynote address, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Sania Nishtar lauded the civil society initiative which has a long-standing history of work to promote a second-chance-for-girls in education. Reiterating further, she stated, ‘Government is conscious of glaring gender disparities in many sectors across Pakistan. Attention to women issues particularly social protection, education, livelihoods and economic empowerment is central to Prime Minister’s multisectoral Ehsaas program. We stringently follow 50 percent plus benefits policy for women under Ehsaas to create equal opportunities for them across the board ensuring that no girl is left behind. Ehsaas Kafaalat, undergraduate scholarships, interest free loans and Amdan are specifically aimed to bring women on the pathways to socioeconomic prosperity.’
March 10, 2020-Islamabad: Prime Minister launched the Ehsaas District Development Portal titled, “Data4Pakistan” that provides open and public access to a spatial interactive portal with poverty estimates, interactive maps, indices and reports for every district in Pakistan, along with over 120 development and policy indicators. The portal currently has six rounds of district poverty and development data, covering the period 2004-18. Addressing the ceremony, the PM said, “A civilized society is known by the standard of living of its poor. This is the first step in finding the necessary ways and means to fight poverty and will help identify areas which are in most need of funds, besides finding other vital statistics about issues being faced by local people.” The portal has been developed in collaboration with the World Bank. This portal will be a very valuable resource for federal, provincial and district level policymakers, for decision making. Earlier, demonstrating the features of this ground-breaking Ehsaas initiative, Dr. Sania Nishtar, SAPM on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation stated, “Data4Pakistan is one of the 134 programs and policies under Ehsaas that is aimed to leverage data and technology to create solutions for welfare.” The portal can be accessed here.
March 9, 2020 – Peshawar: The Prime Minister Imran Khan formally launched Ehsaas Kafaalat programme in KP at a ceremony in Mohmand Tribal district to financially and digitally empower the disadvantaged women across KP. During the ceremony, the PM distributed Ehsaas Kafaalat cards among deserving women and appreciated the Kafaalat registration and payment system that has recently been put in place under Ehsaas framework to ensure financial and digital inclusion of the marginalized women. Under the umbrella of Ehsaas, the Kafaalat programme has currently begun by enrolling deserving families in 4 districts of KP- Lakki Marwat, Mohmand Agency, Haripur and Charsadda districts and it will be expanded to all other districts by the end of year. Following on the federal launch of Ehsaas Kafaalat programme by the Prime Minister on Jan 31, 2020 in Islamabad, this was the first provincial launch of Ehsaas Kafaalat in any province. While addressing the event, the PM said, “The government is working to provide relief to the downtrodden segments of the society on the pattern of Riyasat-e-Madina.” Chief Minister, KP Mahmood Khan and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Sania Nishtar also spoke at the occasion. Footage can be accessed here.
March 8, 2020- Islamabad: To celebrate International Women’s Day 2020 and to discuss issue of women’s harassment in Pakistan, President of Pakistan Dr. Arif Alvi hosted an event at Aiwan-e-Sadar in Islamabad. While discussing the issue of women’s harassment at the event, the president also referred to the government’s flagship social welfare programme Ehsaas and said that the government was committed to ensure social and economic betterment of womenfolk. The ceremony was attended by PM’s Special Assistant on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Sania Nishtar, PM’s Special Assistant on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza, Federal Ombudsman, Kashmala Tariq, Foreign Office Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui, prominent women personalities and representatives of different organizations.
March 6, 2020 – Islamabad: In a quest to draw on lessons from the field, Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Sania Nishtar paid an impromptu visit to Ehsaas Kafaalat registration desks set up by NADRA in Haripur. The visit aimed to overlook the self-registration process for deserving women in Kafaalat through on spot checking and feedback from people and officials. Despite heavy rains, the visit saw long queues of women who had gathered to get themselves registered under the Prime Minister’s Kafaalat program under Ehsaas framework. Dr. Nishtar stood with the applicant women in the queue who had arrived for Kafaalat self-registration, took round of the facility and interacted with women and officials to enquire about the current applicant care process and arrangements. Footage can be accessed here. Later, she visited Alfalah Bank’s alfa pay outlets in Haripur to check the results of newly introduced payment digital payment system for Kafaalat beneficiaries. Footage can be accessed here.
March 2, 2020, Prime Minster Imran Khan granted Ehsaas undergraduate scholarships for academic year 2019-20 to the first batch of deserving students in Islamabad.Addressing the leaders of tomorrow, the Prime Minister reiterated that Pakistan’s biggest asset is the country’s youth and Ehsaas scholarships for deserving undergraduate students is another step towards the realization of the goal of a welfare state based on the pattern of state of Madina. Aiming to provide higher education opportunities for 200,000 students coming from underprivileged backgrounds, the 4-year Ehsaas undergraduate scholarship program is the largest ever need based scholarship program in the history of our country. The scholarship offers full-tuition fee and a living stipend (Rs.4,000 per month) for bright yet disadvantaged students to earn an undergraduate degree at any of the 119 public sector universities across Pakistan (including GB and AJK) recognized by the Higher Education Commission (HEC). As part of the policy, the scholarship support will be continued to awardees throughout the course of their undergraduate degree program based on their academic performance. Earlier, speaking at the award ceremony, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Sania Nishtar said, “ The scholarships will be awarded on transparency and merit to help the deserving students get education.”
Feb 28, 2020, Assistant to Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Sania Nishtar while addressing a press conference at PID said that it is for the first time in the history that such a big undergraduate scholarship programme has been initiated purely on government expenses under ‘Ehsaas’ to ensure that 50,000 deserving students access the higher education annually. She addressed a press conference along with a senior leader of PTI, Dr. Shahbaz Gill and Advisor Human Resource Development, HEC, Noor Amna Malik. Dr. Sania Nishtar briefed media that this scholarship will accommodate 200,000 students including 50 per cent girls from the low backgrounds in the four years through providing them full tuition fee as well as living stipends.
Feb 28, 2020, The Ehsaas Value Chain Building Committee met today for third time at the Prime Minister’s office to deliberate on strengthening rural value chains agenda, which comes under the umbrella of the pioneering Ehsaas social protection and poverty alleviation programme. Dr. Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation, chaired the meeting. The meeting brought experts’ perspective to the table around building value chains for rural transformation, catalyzing increased productivity, increased incomes for subsistence farmers and job creation. The meeting was an opportunity for the leadership from across eight federal government ministries and Provincial Departments of Agriculture and Livestock – to join representatives of key national and international finance, food and agriculture bodies – including the key persons from State Bank, National Bank of Pakistan, FBR, Government research entities, and representatives of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, USAID and Japan International Cooperation Agency, TELCOS including Telenor and Jazz. In attendance were also representatives from IFAD, which is an international financial institution and specialized United Nations Agency and collaborator on this initiative.
February 27, 2020, The Steering Committee of Ehsaas undergraduate scholarships met for the fourth time to give final touches to the scholarship program for the academic year 2019-2020. The steering committee is co-chaired by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation, Dr. Nishtar and Chairman Higher Education Commission (HEC), Dr. Tariq Banuri. The steering committee discussed and finalized the schedule for scholarship distribution to 50,000 deserving students for the year 2019-2020. For the current academic year, applications were solicited from students online via HEC’s portal-HEC being the implementing agency for this Ehsaas program. The scholarships award will soon commence and dates for this will be shortly announced. “The steering committee will ensure that scholarship program benefits maximum number of students who are in actual need”, reiterated Dr. Nishtar.
February 26, 2020, Ehsaas undergraduate scholarships is one of the eight priority programs of Ehsaas. For the current academic year (2019/20), the scholarships award will begin soon and dates for this will be shortly announced. In this regard, the Dr. Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation made a surprise visit to the Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad. She held a dialogue with students in the grounds of QAU. “This was a critical policy consultation, which enabled me to appreciate fully how important financial access to education is for students at an undergraduate level” she said. VC QAU, Muhammad Ali was also present at the occasion. The consultation with students wasn’t held in a fancy hotel or auditorium; there were no microphones or fancy backdrops. She sat on the floor on the grounds of QAU and interacted with students to get insights on their academic aspirations and key challenges being faced by them. She listened to students and empathized with them to understand their concerns and constraints. “I strongly believe that we cannot frame policies sitting back in offices; unless we engage with the beneficiaries of programs we run, we cannot ensure that programs are responsive” she said. The students were delighted to interact with her. Footage can be accessed here.
February 24, 2020, Ehsaas convened a consultative meeting on ‘Big Data Analytics’ with the key stakeholders at the Prime Minister’s Secretariat in Islamabad. The meeting provided an opportunity to develop a better understanding of the existing capacity within the country regarding data analytics and how it can be leveraged to design and implement, accelerated and lasting social protection and poverty alleviation initiatives under the overarching Ehsaas framework. Dr. Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Social Protection and Poverty and Chairperson BISP chaired the meeting. Big Data Analytics are key to Ehsaas framework as their use enables important insights from programmatic data, enhancing the accuracy of decision-making processes for various Ehsaas programs, initiatives and policy actions.